The Alliance Labs Resident Spotlight: Christina Brown

The Resident program at The Alliance Labs was designed to create opportunities for Chicago’s dedicated and talented young adults who have overcome extraordinary adversity and aspire to greatness and leadership through careers in technology. These future leaders are given real-world, employable skills that are practiced, challenged and perfected through the work The Alliance Labs does for its valued clients. One of the program’s current residents is Christina Brown.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born and raised in Chicago, though I currently live in Evergreen Park. I’ve always had a passion for technology and web design for as long as I can remember. I have an Associate’s Degree in Web Graphic Design from DeVry University though most of the time between obtaining that degree and finding The Alliance Labs had dimmed my passion through lack of success in finding a job that matched my skills.

What led you to The Alliance Labs Resident program?

Before I found out about The Alliance Labs, I found out about i.c.stars from an alum. While in i.c.stars, I first met Jon and Andrew at a small networking event that i.c.stars does for its interns. Near the end of my time in i.c, The Alliance Labs premiered a series of workshops called ‘Zombie Chase’ in which basics of web design were taught and weekly assignments were given. If the assignments and workshops were missed, you would eventually be ‘eaten’ by the zombies. I passed the classes and after graduating i.c., was given the opportunity to become a resident of the Alliance Labs. I took the opportunity and have been glad that I did ever since.

What have you been involved in so far?

Outside of doing projects for Alliance, there’s the weekly Code Review meetings in which other residents and myself can show off different projects we’ve been working on either for ourselves or for clients in front of each other. By doing so, we get critiqued on how we might do something better and it’s also a way to get any help with the code on particular problems we might be having. I’ve also recently taken over teaching the ‘Zombie Chase’ classes to new residents, being the first resident to do so.

What are you hoping to learn from The Alliance Labs?

I’m hoping to gain as much knowledge and experience from The Alliance Labs as possible. But every new project, whether it’s mine to work on or something shown by one of the other residents, brings something new to learn. Not to mention the fact that the way web design is done is always changing. With both of those things in mind, I don’t think I’ll ever really run out of things to learn.

What Was Your Favorite Project?

I wouldn’t say I have a favorite project. Though I can say there’s one that comes close only because of the new knowledge I gained. It was the website for Temple Sholom, done in WordPress. The new knowledge was learning how to work with the ‘X’ theme and Cornerstone. There was also the added bonus of the (former) Creative Director, David, starting off an instructional video as if he was giving me details of a spy mission.

What are your plans after The Alliance Labs?

My plans? To start, I want to go further as a front-end if not possibly full-stack. To possibly dive more into app development as well. In the long-term future I’d like to one day have my own web development and app development company.

How has the Alliance Labs helped you build a career?

The Alliance Labs has helped me not only expand my skill-set as a web developer but has also shown me the benefits of being able to teach what I know to others, as a requirement of advancement in The Alliance Labs Residency program is to teach a workshop to the group. It’s also a huge resource with a helpful community free of judgment.


The Alliance Labs Client Spotlight: UGN

In the spring of 2015, The Alliance Labs partnered with Tier 1 auto parts manufacturer, UGN. Their original request: Create a website refresh that was contemporary to the competition and easier to manage. After a successful project UGN contracted us as their on-call web maintenance team.

A few months later in late 2015, UGN’s CEO, Peter Anthony, approached us with an exciting opportunity. Could we build a 3D interactive application to illustrate how UGN’s products integrate into a car’s design while highlighting UGN’s brand as a leading edge place to work?

So over the next few months we created a fully interactive 3D module to illustrate the products and their purpose that contribute to UGN’s leadership in the industry.

Pleased with the result, Mr. Anthony ordered a complete redesign of the website to align the UGN digital experience with the new 3D Virtual Vehicle. Our orders were to highlight just how unique a leader UGN is as an employer and an innovator in an industry that impacts millions of people every day.

The Alliance Labs Design Partner and mentor, Kathleen Eva lead the effort to update and simplify the complete site design. We then worked with UGN’s PR team at Arment Dietrich to produce updated and refreshed content and copy. Lastly, where others would have created a boilerplate “about us” video, our media production partner Eric Revels and his team raised the bar and created a compelling, heartfelt narrative that truly captures the energy and optimism available to everyone working at UGN.  Take a look!

The new and improved website officially launched in late January this year. Check it out! We’re proud to have partnered with this extraordinary organization and hope after taking a tour of their new digital experience you come to understand just as we do, how special the people are at UGN and how lucky we are to be on their team.